The Importance of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) for Lean ManagersIt is easy to see why a high IQ advantages Lean managers. Lean requires plenty of number-crunching and analysis, as well as the ability to visualize what may be a global supply chain and identify problems immediately. But what about EQ, or “emotional intelligence?”

Many sources list EQ as critical to management performance, but some Lean managers disagree interpret a high EQ as indicating a management style not compatible with a laser focus on continuous improvement. On the other hand, many Lean success stories revolve around a leader who “sold” Lean to his organization thanks to his emotional intelligence.

The role of EQ in Lean management

Traits Associated with High EQ and Lean Management

According to sociologist and psychologist Jeanne Segal, Ph. D., emotional intelligence consists of four core abilities: Self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. These traits are tied to five key skills: The ability to quickly reduce stress; the ability to recognize and manage one’s emotions; the ability to connect with others using non-verbal communication; the ability to use humor and play to deal with challenges; and the ability to resolve conflicts positively and with confidence.

If you have worked for a Lean manager who displayed all of these traits, you may not have attributed them to emotional intelligence, but you likely benefited from his or her management style.

Applying EQ to Lean

If you are fortunate enough to have a high “EQ” and the core abilities described above, use those strengths as a Lean manager to create value for your organization. Most importantly, managers with a great deal of emotional intelligence tend to be capable of creating immediate understanding and engagement around Lean initiatives. Take on opportunities to lead conversations about Lean transitions and engagement around opportunities to find efficiency.

Lean managers with a high EQ tend to be viewed as inspirational, trustworthy leaders. Embrace this role in the organization. Advocate for efficiency-boosting changes that benefit customers as well as the company.

Lean Health Care Management and Emotional Intelligence

The ideal job for a Lean manager who excels in the area of emotional intelligence may be a leadership role in health care management. As we have previously discussed in this space, Lean is a great fit for health care.

Managers in this field must weigh patients’ needs with retention of employees who are themselves deeply driven by a desire to do good and make people well. Additionally, health care management is essentially a desk job conducted in a war zone; doctors are making life or death decisions even as you compare supply chain management mechanisms. To cope with the environment, you must be capable of managing your own stress levels and analyzing your own reactions in order to move forward.

Have Your Say

Would EQ be a top consideration for you in hiring a Lean manager, or perhaps when choosing to work for one? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.